State did what it could to help troubled youths

"Tragic" is the right description for the lives of both young men, Philip E. Parker Jr. and Kevin G. Johns Jr. But for The Sun to imply that they both went begging for help from the state and did not receive it doesn't sound right.

According to "Parallel Lives, Tragic Ending" (Feb. 13), the Department of Social Services came into Kevin Johns' life when he was 3 years old. He was in and out of foster homes and institutions until age 18. He was diagnosed with many disorders. He was incorrigible in school. He went to a home for troubled youths where he received his high school diploma.

The state did all this in an effort to save this boy. It doesn't sound like he went begging for help until he ran away from the system.

Philip Parker was apparently born with a mental deficiency. At age 8, he set his aunt's house on fire; at age 10, he took a tablet of drain cleaner to school and tried to get a girl to ingest it.

He was then taken from his family and was "in and out of mental health facilities. And he would spend time in various juvenile justice centers."

When he would try to come home there would be trouble again and his mother was unable to care for him. And then, again, he would become a ward of the state.

His plight was sad and his death extremely cruel and disturbing.

However, the facts as presented in the article document that the two boys received years of extensive psychiatric testing and counseling along with attempts to educate them, feed them, clothe them and house them.

It just didn't work, and that is the "tragic" part.

My heart goes out to the family of Mr. Parker. And I can only imagine how Mr. Johns' family must feel. But I kept looking for a way that the state had failed these boys, and I, for one, could not find it.

Eula M. Marshall


Time to reconsider evolution's efficacy

In supporting Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and dismissing "intelligent design," The Sun has given short shrift to considerable and growing support from the scientific community for another conclusion ("Fear of evolution," editorial, Feb. 9).

The support for intelligent design comes from three branches of the scientific and mathematics community: biochemistry, statistics and archaeology. And while we may never be absolutely certain as to the origins of life on Earth, this information should at least give us pause before we are too quick to dismiss a competing explanation to a theory authored in 1859 - before the bulk of our current medical knowledge was discovered.

Research and analysis in the field of biochemistry have shown that a variety of critical life-sustaining cellular functions are irreducibly complex. And since evolution is predicated on a series of trial-and- error modifications, some in the biochemistry community openly question the application of evolution to the origin of life, favoring intelligent design.

Statistical studies at a number of universities in the United States also call into question the likelihood that evolution adequately explains the origin of life.

Some models have estimated that the odds of a single-celled organism having evolved by random chance at 1 in 10 to the 100th power.

While The Sun has a long history of supporting evolution, dating back to H. L. Mencken's coverage of the Scopes trial in 1925, it seems like it might be time to take a fresh look at whether the 150-year-old theory of evolution can adequately explain how life came to be on Earth.

Robert Aylward


Picking Dean dooms Democrats to defeat

The election of Howard Dean as Democratic National Committee chairman illustrates that the Democrats have learned nothing from the election of 2004 ("Dean vows to expand appeal of Democratic party as leader," Feb. 13).

Voters in the red states Mr. Dean intends to target rejected a Northeastern liberal in the last presidential election. So now the DNC will try to woo them back under the leadership of another?

The arrogance of the Democratic Party is catching up with it, and apparently the hand-wringing and soul-searching that went on in November is gone and forgotten.

The Republicans will cruise into the White House in 2008, and the members of the DNC will have no one to blame but themselves.

Ray O'Brocki


SPCA still hopes to help neuter pets

Like many in the community, the SPCA is sad about the suspension of the Neuter Scooter ("Neuter Scooter shut down by Humane Society shortfall," Feb. 11).

It was a progressive program that helped thousands of pets and people. Indeed, it met its original goal of neutering 10,000 animals in Baltimore in four years and ultimately fixed more than 11,000 city pets.

This was a major accomplishment of which the SPCA is very proud.

The Maryland SPCA of Baltimore remains committed to the spay/neuter cause, as it is the best way to address the pet overpopulation problem in our community. Not only does it improve the lives of animals and reduce the number of unwanted pets, it also protects people by reducing roaming strays and even animal bites.

At this time, the SPCA is working on creating a more cost-effective way to help the public spay and neuter pets. We are also meeting with other local animal groups to collaborate on this venture.

Aileen Gabbey


The writer is executive director of the Maryland SPCA of Baltimore.

Cost-cutting trims the paper's value

Here is another voice asking you to reinstate Thomas L. Friedman's column on its Opinion * Commentary page.

I read the column about why The Sun isn't carrying his column anymore ("Times' policy kept Friedman from Sun readers," Feb. 13). But if The Sun saves much more money, the paper won't be worth anything.

I only read it now because I can't get local in-depth news from other sources. And I don't read any of the other opinion columnists. They are nowhere near the quality of Mr. Friedman.

Albert Winkler


Thanks for clarifying Friedman's absence

I salute The Sun for being up front with its candid explanation of the absence of Thomas L. Friedman's columns from the editorial pages ("Times' policy kept Friedman from Sun readers," Feb. 13).

While I am disappointed and sorely miss Mr. Friedman's columns because I consider him to be one of the very few writers who provides the public with a philosophical understanding and approach to the numerous troublesome obstacles existing in our civilization today, I nevertheless am most grateful to The Sun for clarifying its dilemma.

Quinton D. Thompson


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